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I'm not a pianist but I have history as a woodwind doubler and I made a very crucial part of the saxophone for many years for many famous players so I have a good handle on what kind of tone I'd like.

I had an older upright Yamaha that I loved but got seriously injured probably as a result of over practicing and playing too fast but that's really another story but that's what motivated me to sell the Yam. It was a heavy piano.

I also turned 60 and figured I'd buy myself a Steinway for living as long as I have and also have a little something to leave my family when I croak since there won't be much else and I ended up buying a completely overhauled 1906 model A. It may be a psychological thing or not but I liked the 52" Yam more maybe with the exception of the left hand. I find the Steinway too bright and without many mids to the sound and not as complex as the Yam.

I have a tech coming in about a month who I suspect is very good and I may have him voice it. There's an A on the Steinway that I like so maybe he can get the rest of the piano to sound like that A. It's rich and buttery and dark which I like. I've also played a teachers model A which I loved.

So I'm thinking that maybe I should sell my Steinway and try and find a Bechstein at a reasonable price since they're supposed to be dark pianos, they're just soo damn expensive.

Thoughts on this please. You folks have been just wonderful and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Be safe in these strange time.

Thank you,

Brian

Last edited by Brian Sweeney; 10/06/20 11:58 AM.
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I think this serves as a cautionary tale to prospective buyers to only buy a piano whose tone you like as it is. There are so many variables in rebuilds of vintage instruments, but the biggest impact on tone will be the choice of hammers. If someone slaps a set of hard, heavy hammers on an old Steinway, your tone profile will suffer. That is what I suspect happened to your piano. These pianos were originally designed for lighter, cold-pressed hammers, such as Ronsen now makes.

It is possible your tech could voice the hammers to get a result that you will find satisfactory (probably by needling them to death), but that result might not last long with a heavy, hard hammer. (Cold-pressed hammers such as Ronsen also take to voicing nicely, from what I've heard.) Give it a try. It is cheaper than a new set of hammers.

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Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney
So I'm thinking that maybe I should sell my Steinway and try and find a Bechstein at a reasonable price since they're supposed to be dark pianos, they're just soo damn expensive.

I would not characterize a new Bechstein as a "dark" sounding piano. It sounds like you haven't played one yet, though.
See what your tech can do with the current piano. Did the tone change since you bought it significantly? How long ago did you buy it?


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No, I haven't played one, just going by what I read on the net and the only one I can afford is not very close to me but I'd be willing to go there. There seems to be a lot of them in Europe but shipping sounds expensive.

I might be nuts but I feel that the tone changes the time. I sound like my nutty old sax customers that have to deal with this sort of thing every time they change reeds.

I bought it about ten months ago and the guy was supposed to give me a six month checkup and a voicing but he's avoiding me now and I overpaid for it too. Thank you! B

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Thank you. So possibly changing the hammers?

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There isn't anyone on this forum who can tell you exactly why your piano sounds the way it sounds without a full inspection of the instrument. I'm not a technician so I wouldn't be able to tell you even if I did inspect it, although I'd have educated hunches.

1906 is an old piano, so the restoration is everything. What was done to the piano? Were the replacement parts of the correct specification? Were the retained parts in good enough condition to be used?

Before you go selling pianos and getting yourself something else, you should think about hiring an experienced technician to inspect your piano and take it from there.

Regarding Bechstein pianos: They are a bright sounding instrument. The older ones are darker in tone than the newer ones perhaps, but all in all they go for a bright ring to the sound. If I were you I'd go out and play as many pianos as you can.

By the way, Yamahas uprights are not particularly heavy, so it sounds like there might have been an issue with the regulation.

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Thanks Joseph, sounds like a plan.

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
1906 is an old piano, so the restoration is everything. What was done to the piano? Were the replacement parts of the correct specification? Were the retained parts in good enough condition to be used?

Exactly, Joe (as usual!).

Of course, when we are talking about "correct specification" and hammers, specification from which era of Steinway; current or 1906? We know those are two different things. Even though Steinway likes to go on about "genuine" parts in rebuilds, action geometry and hammers have changed over the years, even for the same model...

Last edited by violarules; 10/06/20 01:01 PM.
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Why did you buy a Steinway when you loved playing Yamaha?
How did it sound before you bought it, did you like the sound then?


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The sound does change over time, because the tuning will drift. Be careful you are not confusing tone with tuning. First get a good tuning, then evaluate tone. When a technician voices a piano, they will first tune it (and maybe do other things too).

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A good tech will be able to say, at least to some degree, whether they will be able to make the piano's tone more to his liking and how long the change will last. For a very modest amount they can voice a small number of notes to see how much the OP likes the change. Before spending a lot of money on a new piano and also losing money on the sale of the Steinway, trying to voice the Steinway is infinitely more reasonable.

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Originally Posted by violarules
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
1906 is an old piano, so the restoration is everything. What was done to the piano? Were the replacement parts of the correct specification? Were the retained parts in good enough condition to be used?

Exactly, Joe (as usual!).

Of course, when we are talking about "correct specification" and hammers, specification from which era of Steinway; current or 1906? We know those are two different things. Even though Steinway likes to go on about "genuine" parts in rebuilds, action geometry and hammers have changed over the years, even for the same model...


Well, basically I mean do they work for that piano. Specifications of course are a guide and have to be adapted to each individual instrument, which is where the skill of the rebuilder and technician come to the fore. When an instrument has been rebuilt it diverges from original specification (it has to, really!), and as an instrument ages it moves away from original spec no matter how often it's regulated by even factory trained techs. Even two new pianos from Steinway model Bs built in the factory at the same time will differ in some ways.

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That Model A can be fixed. Even if you feel you overpaid for it it will cost way more to trade it away. Just the sales tax on a new Bechstein will be more than a proper voicing or even a new set of hammers would set you back.

Maybe you can go out and play several other Steinway A’s and when you find one you love, discover what hammers are in it? Then you should be able to set yours up to a close match.


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All pianos sound different and have different tones, they can also be voiced to some extent. However I would just like to point out Bechsteins aren’t really known for a dark sound. Bluthners are meant to have a very mellow tone so perhaps try to give one of those a try. When I went to the Bluthner shop in london they lived up to their reputation of being very mellow. Basically if you are a musician then go out and buy a piano based on this order of priorities:

1) condition
2) tone + action
3) aesthetics
4) the name on the fall board. And even then base your opinion on historic brand reliability + tuning stability

Last edited by WTM; 10/06/20 04:17 PM.

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thank you y'all!

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I’d get a top notch technician who is excellent in voicing technology. I agree with WBLynch. Your A can be fixed to sound like a Steinway A. Hopefully that was the goal when you bought it. It would be far easier to work with something you already own rather than take the typical trade loss to buy something else.

Buy a piano you love. It’s a long journey buying a project piano.


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